Thursday, November 17, 2016

Epicedium epi-ce-di-um 

You are everything this isn't 


     Praising the dead 

     Porcelain paths recede and fall beneath 
     Beard falls under the precipice of his neck 
     Flows Drifts down And Praises 
     What has moved on 
     Deeper into the abysimal sunrise
     Ranunculi
    Twine and Knot grip 
    Tangle precious 
    Grip Unstoppable Determined 
    Over thin peaks of ice and roots 
    As fallen and bound 
    Tangled knotty fiber
    Tinged with compacted earth 
    It doesn't matter now
    It will grow without relent 
    It will fill the unknown 
    It will fulfill the unknown 

Mourning the Loss 

   This isn't 
   Forge, burn, pucker, melt 
   Smell of burning hair permeates 
   Through tire irons of resilience 
   Profuse
  This is all 
  No response 
  Bleak black Rays penetrating my closed lids 
  Burning them to open 
  Accept, accept 
  Reject, reject
  It matters 
  If it matters 
 Materialize 

Comfort the bereaved 

You're the prayer I speak everyday 
Cotton candy feelings, just a tickle 
Avoid damage 
Where I had been, will be, was 
Doesn't matter now 
It is ok 
Ok to feel 
Ok to be afraid. 
Like molten rock 
Emerging from the forge 
Warm solidity expands 
And scatters heat around in embrace 
Who I am 
Who we are 
This is. 
Cooling down into amalgam.

Is 
This moment 
Embraced 
Pressed to bosom 
Hip to hip 
Thigh to thigh 
Chin to shoulder 
Nose to neck 
Skin to Skin 
Move, meld, tangle
Unsuspecting soft calf 
My foot grazes strong sturdy warmth
I thought you 
Love thought you 
Words in my head 
Like confetti for a celebration 
Destination not far 
Or beyond 
I am here 

My earth my home my sunlight 

My core 
My Pinnacle.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Restarting my blog with a recent poem: Liminal.

As of now, I am attempting to create myself as a brand, as a writer. I do know that marketing is crucial in this business, so I will attempt to jump start my old blog and maybe both maintain my old followers and attract some new ones. In the past this has been my home ground. Recently, ?I have started to branch out into new forms, creating a kind of tree or network to get the word out. My most recent poem is a good way in to this I think. It is called Liminal. But first I would love to define "liminal" for those who are not that familiar with the word:

liminal

1. of or relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.
2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.

It is one of my most cherished words after all.

Liminal

There is a way in. If on course, a way out.

The film stops at a frame but gets itself stuck inside.  We perform our roles endlessly, to enable our chosen ceremony. Eyes blackened and opaque, we see not the end. Why would we? The show goes on and we take our places. We march held in place to the drumbeat given. Never understanding or acknowledging that, yes, we are allowed to stop. All the while in expectation of exiting stage left.

But the playwright didn’t write that in there, now did he?

So we dance.

And the revelers look on.

In with the new we say. We feed our rebellious instincts.  Out with the old, feeling out lives into a large filter. We pick and discard. Pick and discard. The contents: what must go, stay, or be released

To the wind.

Top down economics. A surprise in store. But we gush outward and flow like a broken valve. Letting time and our expectations out to sea for a little while

Falling only to rise again in a rushing torrent. Our humanity heals

Disorientation and vertigo. We falter and fall.  On our feet once again and different. We coast in a field of uncertainty. Unfiltered field of vision. Vast white across. Bright ecstasy erases the black. It disperses into sea foam and dreams. Rushing and erasing, moving down.

It changes and we change in accordance with it.

Polished, clear, malleable. Like water.

Our agency found. Like the surf

We stop fighting. 

And flow. Just to balance

Our own

two feet.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Cafe Carlo

Windy today, although the sun stands still, burning its intensity through the treetops. His long legs carry him far, quickly. He remains within his inner world, barely noticing what is happening around him.  It is a good thing that nothing much is happening around him. He never sees the rickety swings blowing and stretching against their chains. He never quite realizes how stupid this is: walking through town at 6:30 am. He knows it, yet still does it. Just another miserable day that is just the same as the last one.  He looks down at the ground and contemplates.
It was rather funny to observe him: Carlo freshly showered, shaven, primped, in his crisp suit and shoes contrasted against the dingy stale streets, like a street performer travelling through town with the circus: he, the mime, playing for his bread.  His pants a little bit too short, his waist a little too high, his suit rather strange.  Jacket was shorter than it should be, almost bolero style, tie black and razor thin, sharp against the stark white of his shirt. The fog was even resting against the surface of the street, and as he walked through, it seemed to part, as if he was a god coming out from the strange world beyond.
Carlo arrived into town a lot earlier than most would even think of rising from their beds. He was leaving on a train for Nice.  Plaster walls all around falling apart, bright orange terracotta roofs contrasted against the weary state of the dwellings. Clothes still hung out on lines from the day before. Dogs wandered, looking for scraps of the food that they weren’t getting from home, or wherever they came from. It is approaching 7 am as Carlo comes upon the village square. He passes one house and hears a male voice yelling over Italian opera blaring away, both loud enough to be heard on the street outside. Carlo smells the bread from the bakery and coffee from the cafe across the street. There is a sullenness to the scene, and Carlo feels right at home. Although one would not guess it from his outer appearance.  Only his inner state matches the outside world.
The train ride will be long and his addiction is strong, so he decides to have a smoke before entering the cafe. He leans against the wall as a scooter whizzes by. The mud on his boots is irritating him, so he kicks them against the wall. The mud was making him want to smoke even more. Mud from his aunt’s back garden. He had to trudge through it this morning because the front entrance has been blocked. The fog seems to be rolling around him as he stands there. He sees a woman crossing the street from the bakery. As she walks past him, he says, “Ciao,” in a rather deep voice. It would have been strange not to say anything at all given the desolation around them. He blows out smoke just as she looks and responds back.  It’s as if the smoke and fog have overtaken him. He is suddenly slightly embarrassed and shifts his feet around. He smiles at her, thinking to himself, “Strange little town”. She smiles back politely. Almost seems too terrible and mysterious a place for a woman like that. His first thoughts anyway.  He wonders where she lives and what her story is. She must live out beyond the hills of olives and vast farms, away from this place.  
He stomps out his cigarette and enters the cafe after her. Not immediately though. He waits a couple of minutes. He encounters several rooms inside.  Some dark and closed off, the back ones stuffed and overcrowded.  The front room is scattered with horse hair chairs and an old brass bar, gleaming and smelling strongly of brass polish. The owner stands waiting,  
The bell on the door rings and yet another man walks in. His heavy black boots sound across the floor as he enters.  The man sits down next to the woman Carlo had met outside. Carlo’s own boots announce his presence as he takes his rightful place on the other side of the woman at the bar.


“Caffe,” he mutters under his breath to the owner.


He puts his foot up on the bar rail and stands in place, facing her. His eyes fix on her. To Clarissa, his eyes look a little high and distant, icy blue. She is halfway through her own coffee and feeling ashamed.  She wishes she had put more thought into her dress today:Grey t-shirt and yoga pants just aren’t cutting it. She glances over at the guy again. He looks like he is dressed for a party or something. She worries her American-ness is showing through her carefully laid facade.  She had meant to just stop at the post office and go home.


“Ciao, bella.”
“Ciao. Come sta?”
“Ah you are american. I am quite fine now in this dull Italian town” His intensity now fills with interest and a sense of enthusiasm, as he steps closer to her, then sits down on the chair next to her.
“Yes, I am American. You are quite right. Good ear.” She rotates her stool towards him so as not to be rude, hitting his leg in the process.
She apologizes. He smiles and adjusts himself, getting comfortable.  They introduce themselves.  Clarissa notices his smile most of all. Kind of sly, a bit mischievous, but his stare is intense and makes her slightly intimidated.  He orders another two espresso for them both, with a finger high in the air to the owner, that Clarissa is surprised at his self assurance.  It shows in her demeanor. She slouches rather painfully so on the bar stool that suddenly feels less than comfortable.


She feels like a child next to this apparently young, rather eccentric guy.


They both receive their next coffees and toast to good health.  Carlo then says,
“You are a welcome change to this dreary town, Clarissa. A beautiful vision. My own attitude towards this place is not good.” He appears pensive. Distraught.
“Why is that?” She wonders. “I mean, I’ve lived here for twelve years so maybe I am missing something? It’s a comfortable place to me.’


He pauses a few moments before answering. And then he begins:
“I recently arrived here from Nice. I had a small bit of trouble there that I needed to remove myself from.  My aunt graciously took me in in order that I have a roof over my head as I try to recover in many ways. My aunt though…...Not a good thing for me. She disrespects me..”


“Oh that is too bad. I understand…..how so though? Is it that bad? Do you not have a good relationship with her?”
“It is not bad….but not good either. My self esteem has gone……” He turns his thumb down and mumbles something in italian. “As you can see I am not your average Italian man. She puts me down at every turn. Tries to get me to become like one of her burly sons. She wants me to help with the farming. That sort of thing. To me, that’s depressing. All this earth. I want to rise above it all and become different. Take a different direction entirely.”
‘In so many ways, she puts me down. Not directly. It is insidious and vague, so that I cannot defend myself but…” he sighs faintly, ”…...enough! That is enough about me. I would rather hear about you.” She notices he looks even more drained and his anger is starting to rise.
‘Nothing much to tell, Carlo.”
“Oh I am sure there is plenty to tell.’ He smiles brightly at her, making her feel wanted, surprisingly given what he was just speaking about. He has recovered with that phrase.
“I am an old married woman living in a villa up on the hill. I guess there isn’t much to say?” She laughs.
“Yes, BUT. Who IS Clarissa? Who is she deep down? What is your essence? What do you live for?”
She is silent now. After that. Because she doesn’t quite know the answer to that question.
How does one respond with something as mundane as “I am an artist’s wife.” or “I am the caretaker of an alcoholic.” Better to say nothing or something distracting:


So she says, “I am Clarissa.” The silence is more telling than any of the words previously uttered.


Eventually, Carlo says, upon reflection, “Well. Clarissa must be a profoundly deep, radiantly inaccessible entity who I would love to mine for both your benefit and for mine. It has been a great pleasure to meet you today, Clarissa. I happened upon some luck today I think  Maybe there was something in that mud I stepped in this morning after all.”


Friday, November 13, 2015

Carlo expanded.

Windy today, although the sun stands still, burning its intensity through the treetops. His long legs carry him far, quickly. He remains within his inner world, barely noticing what is happening around him.  It is a good thing that nothing much is happening around him. He never sees the rickety swings blowing and stretching against their chains. He never quite realizes how stupid this is. Being out at 6:30 am. He knows it, yet still does it. Just another miserable day that is just the same as the last one.  He looks down at the ground and contemplates. He’s tired. He’s running out of the strength to even get up everyday, so why exactly is he here?
It was rather funny to watch and observe him: Carlo freshly showered, shaven, primped, in his crisp suit and shoes contrasted against the dingy stale streets.  Sharp contrast between street performer travelling through town with the circus: he, the mime, playing for his bread.  His pants a little bit too short, his waist a little too high, his suit rather strange and odd.  Jacket was shorter than it should be, almost bolero style, tie razor thin and sharp against the stark white of his shirt. The fog was even resting against the surface of the streets, and as he walked through it seemed to part, and he was like a god coming out from the strange world beyond. Plaster walls all around falling apart, terracotta roofs contrasted against the weary state of the dwellings. Clothes still hung out on lines from the day before. Dogs wandered looking for scraps of food that they weren’t getting from home or wherever they came from. It is approaching 7 am as Carlo comes upon the village square. He passes one house and hears a male voice yelling over Italian opera blaring away, both loud enough to be heard on the street outside. Carlo smells the bread from the bakery and coffee from the cafe across the street. There is a sullenness to the scene, and Carlo feels right at home. One would not guess that though from his outer appearance.  His insides match the outside world.
He decides to have a smoke before entering the cafe. He leans against the wall as a scooter whizzes by. The fog seems to be rolling around him as he stands there. He sees a woman crossing the street from the bakery. As she walks past he says, “Ciao,” in a rather deep voice. He blows out smoke so as she looks and responds back.  It’s as if the smoke and fog have overtaken him. He is suddenly slightly embarrassed. He smiles at her, thinking to himself, “What a strange little town”. Almost seems too terrible and mysterious a place for a woman like that. His first thoughts anyway.  He wonders where she lives and what her story is. She must live out beyond the hills of olives and vast farms, away from this place.  I’m sure her husband could only so much as deserve her. He better appreciate her obedience.
He stomps out his cigarette and enters the cafe after her. Not immediately though. There are several rooms inside.  Some dark, the back ones stuffed and overcrowded.  The front room is scattered with horse hair chairs and an old brass bar, gleaming and freshly polished. The place smells well cared for. The owner sits waiting, with his reading glasses on reading a newspaper. We may just be his first customers.  The bell on the door rings and yet another gentleman walks in. His heavy boots sound across the floor as he enters.
The man sits down next to the woman he met outside. Carlo’s own boots ring across the floor as he takes his rightful place on the other side of the woman at the bar.
“Caffe” he mutters under his breath.

He puts his foot up on the footrest and stands in place, facing her. He glances her way. To Clarissa, his eyes look a little high and distant. She also notices the icy blue of his eyes. She is halfway through her own coffee.  She wishes she hadn’t been so lax in her dress today. She is wearing a grey long sleeved athletic tee and workout pants. She glances over at the guy again and is slightly ashamed. He looks like he is dressed for a party or something. She worries her American-ness is showing through her carefully laid facade.  She had meant to just stop at the post office and go home.


Carlo arrived in town a lot earlier than most would even think of rising from their beds. He needed to leave on the train to go back to Nice where he was living previously. He decided to have a cigarette before he goes in who knows when the next one will be after this the train ride is long and his addiction is strong, so he leans against the wall the side of the cafe next to the old shoemaker's place. That's the one that has its blinds down for the night. He kicks his boots against the side of the wall try to get the mud off them that he traveled through on the way here , when he cut through the back pass at his aunt’s home. Bella, they call her.  He has a hard time with her  so far, and it ruins his outlook on life because he is so meticulous and so careful about the way he looks and the way he presents himself. So in any event, this little bit of dirt was putting him over the edge and making him want to smoke more. As he is smoking looking down leaning against the wall, he sees a woman coming down the street over the cobblestones. She's wearing basic black pants, ballet flats, her hair is drawn up slightly, but she's beautiful and she's a natural and she's different than what Carlo is used to. She seems like someone he would want to talk to, someone he would want to sit down and have a coffee with.  She crosses the street, looks at him, he says ciao under his breath, and she walks to enter the cafe door. He takes a few more drags off the cigarette and snuffs it out against the brick so that he could follow her into the cafe. He walks through the door and notices her at the bar. She turns to face him and he orders a caffe. Nice that he remains standing. He feels confident this way.  With his foot up and looks at her deliberately trying to get her attention.  Perhaps it's a little strange because it is so early and so it is so early and such a strange place to be at just before 7 a.m. but at the same time it feels right. It feels like a moment that should be salvaged and understood and seen as such. She looks at him, and he sees how beautiful that she is. Also her face seems sad and tired and weary in the way he can't quite put his finger on it, but she feels like a child in a middle-aged woman's body, and he wants to reach out to her. He has this need to reach out to her. Sucks that he himself will be the one to open up and talk to  her, but that is the way it goes, and they start to converse and he feels comfortable with her, he feels like she is someone he's known for a long time. They chat for a bit as they drink their coffee, they share a laugh, and other more meaningful things and offers to walk her home. He still gets the feeling that she's sad. You still get the feeling that this was a moment that was meant to happen. And, he still gets the feeling that they will be friends in the future. He wishes that he could reach out to her, but he knows that it is too soon, so he offers to walk her home and his gentle gentlemanly nature seems to melt her a little bit, and he realizes that he did the right thing by offering. He notices her hair. It's almost her best feature, next to her curvy, soft figure. It's thick and it’s wavy and it’s like nothing he has ever seen before, and she ties it back in and a kind of loose tie, but it still manages to release from that constrictor and fall on her face and neck in long ringlets. It mesmerizes him. And the color is like a chestnut brown, lighter than a brunette,  but very deep,  autumn like.
They walk outside together and he places his arm through hers. He walks on the street side of the walk, and they cross the street together to go towards her house. Very light on the pavement, they both are. She for one doesn't walk like a bull in a china shop or for someone who could care less about how she is perceived. She attempts to walk gracefully, but yet her womanly figure is a little off, slightly awkward, and makes her seem a little  heavy feeling, like her limbs are heavy and hard to maneouver.  He talks to her, and she seems to respond well to him. She even coquettishly jokes with him, which is a good sign. He's not used to a woman of her age being even interested in talking to him, so it makes him feel good and feel wanted and feel like someone who is actually important. Although he has seen a great deal of the world, he still is rather naive and rather inexperienced compared to someone of her age. He can tell by her face that she's been through a lot even though he knows nothing about her. He wants to know more though. She tricks him into such an intense curiousity. She lives at the top of the hill and she tells him that her villa is up there in the village. The villa that she shares with her artist husband. He wants to understand more about her. She offers to have him at her house for a drink. He definitely will pursue this and his curiosity won't let him forget this offer of kindness. She feels to him like someone who will open, open Carlo up further than he allows himself to open up. He feels comfortable and he trusts her and it’s a very weird feeling for Carlo. He's used to being independent and on his own and not needing to trust others, but with Clarissa he feels like he has a chance to go beyond this, to go beyond this perpetual independence and perpetual avoidance of intimacy with others. She starts to slow down as the hill gets more steep. He had more energy than for the both of them combined. He has more energy than two people combined, so he needs to slow down and to allow her to catch up with him, but he's a gentleman and he would never walk in front of her. she has a nice kind of laugh that she wonders whether she ever laughs that much. It's almost like when she does laugh, her face, her whole entire face, lights up and is reflected by the happiness inside her. It seems to relax her to talk to him. She's a different woman than the one he saw on the street this morning. He takes her up to her villa and hands her off through the gate and says goodbye. He needs to go to the train now before it takes off.  He is fully intentioned and has the greatest intention of seeing her when he gets back. He will call on her when he returns next week, and hopefully they are able to speak again. He, would like that very much.  A lonely guy like him needs that in his life: someone to count on, someone to look forward to seeing, someone who won't let him down, someone who will be understanding, and not judging, not judgemental against him. He finally feels like maybe he belongs in this new town. Maybe he can settle somewhere, maybe can settle here. Who knows? Only time will tell.
--------------------------------------------------------------

7 am (some italian village undecided)
The streets are beginning to rise out of the deathlike coma they go into every night, not too much longer after dark. It is almost as if the streets need to loosen their stiffened ligaments after a night of bed pans and bed sore preventive measures.  The 5 am sponge bath forces them awake unwillingly.  

It is a small village of only about 5,000 people, so any kind of nightlife occurs within the confines of people’s property.  There is only one bar in town owned by some Egyptians. We jokingly quip that if you end up drinking too much there, your liver will somehow wind up in a canopic jar and put in the vault in the back room.  There are a few remaining decorations still suspended from the storefronts from yesterday’s parade, but other than that, the village is void of any kind of humanity.  I walk quickly, gradually ascending the slight hill.  The air is chilled, and I had forgotten my sweater when i left.  It had been a long night filled with restless sleep and lack of ability to get comfortable in the flat Italian bed. You just never get used to these beds if you have originally come from America.  Sleep last night stayed as far away as my childhood home.

I stop at the bakery to purchase some bread before I make my way homeward.  I notice upon leaving, a young man languidly leaning against the side of one of the shops. The look on his face was one of a sort of  petulant aggression.  Like someone putting on a good show of fortitude and irritation, yet not quite coming close to the mark.  Instead of coming across imposing, he comes across as more captivating, giving a sort of mystique to his persona.  As I am walking past, he says “Ciao” in a lower voice than expected.  His clothes are crisp and freshly laundered.  He wears stunning black boots, a white dress shirt, and a thin black tie.  His hair is shorn down into a punk-like spiked style, bleached blonde but with darker regrowth catching up with him. He has a lighter complexion and almost grey eyes that are set off by the paleness of his skin.  He wears a long, dangly earring from his left ear with a shape at the bottom that I can’t make out.  I notice his hands are large and rather strong and masculine,  which stand in striking contrast to the rest of his physicality--he is androgynous.  It was actually difficult to tell from afar what his sex is, but clearly “he” walks a fine line between the genders. He wears an obviously deliberate pout on his lips in order to appear lackadaisical.  He does succeed while adding in a bit of sexiness and a lot of gaunt charm.

“May I ask you where you live?” he says in heavily accented italian.  
I respond in my own awkward italian making me sound like a stuttering American fool, compared to the speed and finesse of which he started the conversation. In English he returns my awkwardness right back to me:
“Then I will escort you home, madam.”
He puts his arm through my own and leads me quickly towards the end of the street.
“Carlo”, he says and holds out his hand.
“Clarissa,” I respond and shake it gently.

His boots click and clack against the concrete of the road, making a high pitched sound that reverberates and echoes against the surrounding buildings.

“Don’t be angry with my italian. It knows not what it does.” I giggle, sounding a little childlike.

There is at best a 20 year difference between us, so perhaps, I was subconsciously attempting to narrow the gap.  There is something about the Italian male though.  Not just this one, but in fact, all of them have this bond that hold them together.  I analyze him as a reflection of “them” and wonder why I am so drawn to them. He is different though, but I can’t quite place why just yet.

“I appreciate your chivalry, Carlo.”
“Chivalry is not dead, bellissima.”  He grins and laughs; his grin a little lopsided and demure.
“I am new here. Freshly moved from Nice.  I am living in the apartment of my aunt on Via Vardi.  So this right here is in fact a true attempt to make friendship with you, Clarissa.”
“Well, it is nice to be part of your welcoming committee then, Carlo!” I respond warmly.
“I have been living here in this village for….well, I guess it has been almost 8 years now!  It doesn’t seem that long at all.  I live at the villa on the top of this hill.  You can kind of see it through these trees if you look closely.”
“Most definitely beautiful. And the views?”
“Amazing! It is why we bought it.  You will have to come visit with us some time.  For tea maybe or a glass of wine in the evening.  I would love to show you my home. I am a little too proud of my garden too, so you will have to suffer through that.” haha.
“And I am sure my husband would love to meet you as well.  He’s an artist.  Fairly well known and I am...well, I can know definitely that he will show you his sculptures.  Our home is full of them. Both inside and outside. He is eccentric though. I do warn you ahead of time.” I smile.
“Aren’t all artists though?” Carlo responds coyly.
“Yes. That they are! I don’t think one trait can exist without the other.”

He smooths his tie down as we stop to cross the street.  He turns to face me.
“Clarissa, it has been a pleasure to meet you and to talk with you.”
I notice he looks me directly in the eyes without shame or self consciousness.
“I know that we will come to be great friends.”
He grabs my arm again as we cross.  The cars pass by as he hands me off through my gate.
“Safe and sound.” he confidently announces, turns, and tip taps his way back down the hill. He turns and tips his pretend hat.  “Ciao, Clarissa.”
I tap in the security code and enter my lair.
“Goodbye, Carlo,” but he is already gone.

It was a cat at the end of his earring, dangling there. I just noticed that I had noticed it. Curious.


---------------------------------------------------------------

It is already 9 am when she arrives back at home. Two hours had passed since last she checked her watch at the bakery.  It was an enlightening, albeit invigorating morning full of surprise and a welcome tension to her life. The damn bougainvillea needs pruning again. Richard had been told, but not enough it seems.  He’s already snoozing on the couch on the balcony. That’s ok. She’d have one of his “Hermetic helpers” come work on them. That way, they can entertain him afterwards, so she does not have to.  If Clarissa were a house, she would be a small rose covered cottage. One bedroom and a few small rooms. Only enough space for herself and the things she wanted to do and cherish. She wouldn’t ask for much. Just solitude and freedom. With that, she would never be discontent or sad or lacking in anything. She would not have to answer to anyone. Just like the cottage. Its only job is to blend into the woods happily.  

Friday, October 16, 2015

Carlo

Carlo

7 am (some italian village undecided)
The streets are beginning to rise out of the deathlike coma they go into every night, not too much longer after dark. It is almost as if the streets need to loosen their stiffened ligaments after a night of bed pans and bed sore preventive measures.  The 5 am sponge bath forces them awake unwillingly.  

It is a small village of only about 5,000 people, so any kind of nightlife occurs within the confines of people’s property.  There is only one bar in town owned by some Egyptians. We jokingly quip that if you end up drinking too much there, your liver will somehow wind up in a canopic jar and put in the vault in the back room.  There are a few remaining decorations still suspended from the storefronts from yesterday’s parade, but other than that, the village is void of any kind of humanity.  I walk quickly, gradually ascending the slight hill.  The air is chilled, and I had forgotten my sweater when i left.  It had been a long night filled with restless sleep and lack of ability to get comfortable in the flat Italian bed. You just never get used to these beds if you have originally come from America.  Sleep last night stayed as far away as my childhood home.

I stop at the bakery to purchase some bread before I make my way homeward.  I notice upon leaving, a young man languidly leaning against the side of one of the shops. The look on his face was one of a sort of innocent petulant aggression.  Like someone putting on a good show of fortitude and irritation, yet not quite coming close to the mark.  Instead of coming across imposing, he comes across as more captivating, giving a sort of mystique to his persona.  As I am walking past, he says “Scusi” in a lower voice than expected.  His clothes are crisp and freshly laundered.  He wears stunning black boots, a white dress shirt, and a thin black tie.  His hair is shorn down into a punk-like spiked style, bleached blonde but with darker regrowth catching up with him. He has a lighter complexion and almost grey eyes that are set off by the paleness of his skin.  He wears a long, dangly earring from his left ear with a shape at the bottom that I can’t make out.  I notice his hands are large and rather strong and masculine,  which stand in striking contrast to the rest of his physicality--he is androgynous.  It was actually difficult to tell from afar what his sex is, but clearly “he” walks a fine line between the genders. He wears an obviously deliberate pout on his lips in order to appear lackadaisical.  He does succeed while adding in a bit of sexiness and a lot of gaunt charm.

“May I ask you where you live?” he says in heavily accented italian.  
I respond in my own awkward italian making me sound like a stuttering American fool, compared to the speed and finesse of which he started the conversation. In English he returns my awkwardness right back to me:
“Then I will escort you home, madam.”
He puts his arm through my own and leads me quickly towards the end of the street.
“Carlo”, he says and holds out his hand.
“Clarissa,” I respond and shake it gently.

His boots click and clack against the concrete of the road, making a high pitched sound that reverberates and echoes against the surrounding buildings.

“Don’t be angry with my italian. It knows not what it does.” I giggle, sounding a little childlike.

There is at best a 20 year difference between us, so perhaps, I was subconsciously attempting to narrow the gap.  There is something about the Italian male though.  Not just this one, but in fact, all of them have this bond that hold them together.  I analyze him as a reflection of “them” and wonder why I am so drawn to them. He is different though, but I can’t quite place why just yet.

“I appreciate your chivalry, Carlo.”
“Chivalry is not dead, bellissima.”  He grins and laughs; his grin a little lopsided and demure.
“I am new here. Freshly moved from Roma.  I am living in the apartment of my aunt on Via Vardi.  So this right here is in fact a true attempt to make friendship with you, Clarissa.”
“Well, it is nice to be part of your welcoming committee then, Carlo!” I respond warmly.
“I have been living here in this village for….well, I guess it has been almost 8 years now!  It doesn’t seem that long at all.  I live at the villa on the top of this hill.  You can kind of see it through these trees if you look closely.”
“Most definitely beautiful. And the views?”
“Amazing! It is why we bought it.  You will have to come visit with us some time.  For tea maybe or a glass of wine in the evening.  I would love to show you my home. I am a little too proud of my garden too, so you will have to suffer through that.” haha.
“And I am sure my husband would love to meet you as well.  He’s an artist.  Fairly well known and I am...well, I can know definitely that he will show you his sculptures.  Our home is full of them. Both inside and outside. He is eccentric though. I do warn you ahead of time.” I smile.
“Aren’t all artists though?” Carlo responds coyly.
“Yes. That they are! I don’t think one trait can exist without the other.”

He smooths his tie down as we stop to cross the street.  He turns to face me.
“Clarissa, it has been a pleasure to meet you and to talk with you.”
I notice he looks me directly in the eyes without shame or self consciousness.
“I know that we will come to be great friends.”
He grabs my arm again as we cross.  The cars pass by as he hands me off through my gate.
“Safe and sound.” he confidently announces, turns, and tip taps his way back down the hill. He turns and tips his pretend hat.  “Ciao, Clarissa.”
I tap in the security code and enter my lair.
“Goodbye, Carlo,” but he is already gone.

It was a cat at the end of his earring, dangling there. I just noticed that I had noticed it. Curious.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Down Dog

Down Dog

You are late again. The boss is waiting for you at the door to your office.  The look on your face is that of a dog who has misbehaved and is helplessly submitting. He shuts the door behind you and proceeds to go through the general rules of the organization. You watch and sweat as he writes up the pink slip and tells you that you are on probation for 2 weeks. You look like you are about to cry, but you attempt to hide it. This attempt makes it even more obvious that you are upset.  You wander out of the building after lunch time and , when you are beyond hearing distance, you call “him” up:  the one who has caused you to become something that you are not over the last two months.

He scolds you. You desperately search for an explanation. He is not buying any of it.  It is obvious that you are lying. He knows it and you know that he knows it. So you will play this charade until one of you backs down. It will be you.  That is clear from the current conversation. He has you cornered in more ways than one, so the only way out right now is to become another person entirely and drop your life as you know it. You had opened up too much to the person whom you should not have trusted.  He is used to it though. Most people do.  Can one really blame oneself for being manipulated?

I call the number.  It is the last thing I want to do.  My voice cracks as I tell him that I am not going to help him today.  I attempt to explain that I am ill, and I need to sleep. I try to tone down my normal enthusiasm and make my voice monotone and languid. There is silence at the other end of the line. Oh shit.  He replies, “I have another job for you. I expect that you do it. We made an agreement.”  The firmness is almost palpable as he says this.  “Please. I just can’t. I won’t do well, and I will blow the cover I have taken so long to create. Not today. I just can’t do it!”, I plead. I suppose I must sound desperate. But can he tell I am lying?  “2 pm. Markham Square. The man in the yellow.” That’s all he says. There are too many moments of silence that follow. I hesitate on how I should respond.

1:55 pm. You wait.  You have on the outfit you normally wear. You are The Man in the Red. Funny how this phrase can have multiple meanings. Did he give you this intentionally? You pace along the fountain’s edge.  A man walks up to you asking for change. You pace away, stumbling a little, eyes darting around hoping that no one saw this. You are determined. That is clear. But you are obviously nervous, and everyone around you is giving you sideways glances. You are calling too much attention to yourself.  Your backpack is heavy, and it is weighing you down. You start to slouch forward to compensate. The heat is getting to you today, but you are trying not to show it. You continue to pace:  back and forth along the circular path of the fountain. The lady that is sitting at the path’s center seems nervous and is watching you.  She is eating some kind of energy bar. She is wearing a tailored skirt and a floral blouse, all in accents of red. You could both be inside a store display window, you match so well.  “Sir, is there something wrong? You seem nervous. Can I help you in some way?” At least she knows enough to trust me. I haven’t blown that cover.  A spot of yellow leaps into your field of vision, and you are startled. You never respond to the woman.  You see the man stop in front of the hedge in the distance.

You watch precisely where he places them. He follows instructions carefully. He is calm and relaxed and does not call attention to himself. He deserves a medal.  A few minutes later, after he places the remainder, he walks away. He did not follow the plan. You stop and stand there in shock. Sweat pouring down your face. Now what?? The woman continues to watch you. There is a policeman walking down the sidewalk near the street. You sit down on the edge of the fountain. You are obviously relieved, and this calms your nervousness somewhat.  You watch as the cop turns the corner onto the next street. You catch your breath and appear to think on what to do next. You look down to the ground.

A quick POP is heard. Like a champagne bottle being opened. No one seems to notice. The hum from the crowd and the cars appears to have muffled the sound a little. You fall to the side. Or should I say “slump”. You remain in the same position, just horizontal instead of vertical. There is a far away look in your eyes as the red from your shirt appears to bleed into the surroundings. The fountain fills with your blood as if someone opened up a plug in your back to release it and drain you. Your expression is one of relief and calm, as if the disease has left your body. People start to notice and run around in panic. Your eyes close.

A sharp jab. The pain is unimaginable. So this is how it feels. He shot me. That was the plan. The man in yellow follows through without fear.

So, so tired. I’m going to rest now. My body feels lifeless, and I long to sleep. I will allow it to happen. Why fight it now? Relax and let the inertia take hold. I lie to the side to just feel the calm. I close my eyes and just... let it happen.